KOKOMO, Ind. – This month, the American Red Cross declared a national blood crisis, calling the current situation the worst blood shortage in more than a decade.
One Indiana University Kokomo student athlete is rolling up her sleeves to make a difference, organizing a February 17 blood drive on campus, as an intern with the Red Cross/NAIA Collegiate Leadership Program.
“If everyone who donates blood once a year would donate just one more time, we should never have a shortage,” said Lanie Pocock, a cross country and track athlete from Fort Wayne. “It’s definitely opened my eyes to how much of a blood crisis we are in.”
The blood drive is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Kelley Student Center. Donors may make an appointment at redcrossblood.org.
In addition to making a difference for others, the internship has been a growing experience personally.
“Leading blood drives has made me be more of a people person,” she said. “I can be a bit introverted, but as a nursing student, I have to be more out there, educating people. I can’t be an introvert and teach people.”
Pocock is one of 12 interns selected from NAIA athletes nationwide, based on excellent academic standing and previously demonstrated leadership qualities. She’ll receive a scholarship for participating in leadership training provided by the American Red Cross. In return, she is required to lead two blood drives on campus each year.
She was a once-a-year donor before being chosen, admitting being anxious to give at first.
“I was so nervous that I was going to pass out, but it went smoothly,” she said.
She’s not doing it alone — Pocock has support from Toni Fox, local American Red Cross account manager, as well as her teammates from the cross country and track teams.
“Toni has been amazing, and helped with literally everything,” Pocock said. “My team has been helpful, too, signing up donors and working at the blood drives. It’s a great volunteer opportunity for our team, and allows us to give back to our community.”
Part of her work is educating students on the importance of donating blood. She especially likes to share that each whole blood donation can save up to three lives, because it can be divided into plasma, platelets, and red blood cells.
“As a nursing major, I knew blood was important, but I had no idea how important it was,” she said. “Being involved in this program has really made me realize how critical blood donations are for patients.
Joshua Colvin, IU Kokomo’s cross country and track coach, said he and his staff nominated her for the internship based on her academic and athletic excellence.
“Lanie is a natural leader, who leads by example,” he said, noting she has one of the highest grade point averages on the team. She was also the fourth athlete in campus history to qualify for the NAIA nationals, in the 5,000 meter racewalk.
“All of these accomplishments have led her to being selected, and she has done a phenomenal job with our campus blood drives.” Colvin said.
The February blood drive will be the third she’s organized this school year, and comes at a time blood donations are at an all-time low. According to the American Red Cross, it has experienced a 10 percent decline in the number of people donating blood since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. All blood types are needed, especially types O positive and O negative.